Joseph Mallord William Turner

Arch of Constantine, Rome, seen from the Colosseum


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 130 × 255 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXC 15 a

Catalogue entry

During his 1819 sojourn in Rome, Turner made numerous sketches in and around the Colosseum.1 This sketch depicts the view from just inside the interior of the famous amphitheatre looking south towards the Via di San Gregorio. Turner’s viewpoint is on the western side of the arena, looking out from the ground floor corridor between the inner wall and the partially intact outer wall. The main focus in the centre of the composition is the Arch of Constantine whilst in the background is the Palatine Hill, and on the far right, the Arch of Titus. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background.
Related sketches of views seen from within the arcades of the Colosseum can be found on folios 16 and 19 (D16417 and D16421; Turner Bequest CXC 16 and 19), and in the Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16389; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 58). For a general discussion and further studies of the Arch of Constantine see folio 3 verso (D16398; Turner Bequest CXC 4).

Nicola Moorby
May 2009

Nicola Moorby, ‘An Italian Treasury: Turner’s Sketchbooks’, in James Hamilton, Turner and Italy, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh 2009, p.115.

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